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23 January 2021

University of South Pacific enrolment up 500 per cent

Friday 8 January 2021 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Education, National

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University of South Pacific enrolment up 500 per cent
University of the South Pacific's Cook Islands campus director Dr Debi Futter-Puati. 20041407.

While universities around the world are seeing a sharp decline in enrolment, USP Cook Islands has seen a huge increase thanks to a government initiative.

The University of the South Pacific’s Cook Islands campus has had an increase in student numbers due to government’s support in paying for certificate level courses.

According to the university director Dr Debi Futter-Puati (PhD): “We had a 500 per cent increase in student numbers due to the Cook Islands Government intervention of paying for certificate level courses in semester two (2020).”

And Futter-Puati says the university is “very excited” to hear that government is extending payment of those already enrolled in Fees Free courses.

This will help the students continue with their studies and complete their certificate qualification, she adds.

Futter-Puati said the 2021 academic year would start with semester one studies on February 22.

At the moment they are holding some summer school classes and are continuing with some of the Fees Free courses.

As part of some of the summer school classes, each day they will have a Cook Islands academic presenting for one hour.

Academics who have presented so far are Dr Ake Nicholas, PhD candidate Eliza Puna and Dr Evangelene Daniela-Wong.

All the academics are either PhD's, Associate Professors, Professors, or renowned researchers. Their presentations are based on their own research and their take on an indigenous Cook Islands approach to their work.

“I believe it might be the first time so many Cook Islander academics have come together to share their knowledge,” Futter-Puati said.

“The lucky recipients are those teachers completing their Diploma of Pacific Vernacular Languages: Cook Islands Maori who will then proceed to undertake an action research project of their own related to reo Kuki Airani over the first two terms of the year.”

Orientation for a new computer course starting with the Centre for Excellence in Information Technology will be held this afternoon (Friday) – and 64 people have enrolled for this course.

The university has increased the number of courses available and courses have not been reduced due to Covid-19, Futter-Puati said.

USP’s vice-chancellor and president Professor Pal Ahluwalia in welcoming students to 2021 said the university’s academic programmes are internationally recognised. Professor Ahluwalia said the university is ranked in the top 50 universities from the Oceania region.

And to keep up with the demand, he said the university is upgrading its regional network with higher capability routing with powerful server systems to provide enhanced resourcing for regional campus online services at all campuses. This, Professor Ahluwalia hopes, will provide impact to the university’s teaching, learning and research services to regional member countries such as the Cook Islands.